Monday, July 27, 2015

Rotating In

When you are a kid, the whole concept of taking turns and sharing is pretty challenging to grasp.

Image from

Then, when you get older, sharing becomes almost normal. Think group projects in college, or carpooling to work.

When you have kids, divvying things up is less optional and more a matter of preserving your sanity and achieving critical mass in the face of overwhelming odds.  And then, when the kids get older or even disappear, shared arrangements between friends become a coveted luxury.

I hit the jackpot with my carpool moms, and I've hit another home run with my weekly game night group.  Hostessing duties move from one home to another, giving us a chance to cook fancy or light as the mood strikes us, to try new things or old favorites, and crack open a bottle or two while we're at it. I've collected awesome recipes from my cohorts, like roasted chicken, summer pasta salad with roasted baby tomatoes, or a light and easy Caesar dressing for any weeknight. Mostly the dinners are low key, although I do go a little bit nuts with the birthday desserts for the group.  Most notably this onethis onethis one and this one. 

And now, this one.

Salted Caramel Brownie - ready to bake | Cheesy Pennies

Super simple supper with a crazy celebration dessert.  Both recipes are going right into regular rotation*.

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Tart | Cheesy Pennies

Summer Tomato Tart with Lemon-Feta Mascarpone

I am having another overload of tomatoes this year, and was overjoyed to discover this recipe over on Food52.  Essentially, it's as easy as baking up your favorite pie crust in a tart shell (see instructions in the original recipe if you need them), adding a layer of mascarpone cheese with a little lemon juice mixed in, then loading sliced, fresh, super ripe tomatoes on top. You drizzle a bright green basil oil (olive oil, basil, garlic, and salt) over the tart before serving.   I added about 1/4 c. of crumbled feta to the mascarpone and whipped it in the food processor to give the tart a little more tang, and, by necessity because of an unexpected regular flour and time shortage, added some whole wheat flour to the crust.  Both additions are keepers, in my book. I will be making this again and again and again.

Mascarpone going into tomato tart shell | Cheesy Pennies
Tomato layer in the tart | Cheesy Pennies
Heirloom tomato tart with lemon-feta mascarpone | Cheesy Pennies

Potted Salted Carmel Brownies
Salted Caramel Brownies | Cheesy Pennies
by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 23 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
I did Ina Garten one better by adding a shot of salted caramel to what was already a vaunted skilled brownie recipe of hers I found online. Baked in six small buttered ramekins, they were unbelievable with salted caramel ice cream, vanilla ice cream or all by themselves.
Ingredients (6 individual brownies)
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or other semi-sweet chocolate, like Baker's)
  • 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I used Baker's)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee, or 1/2 tsp (generous), espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. plus 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • About 1/3 c. salted caramel sauce, homemade or store bought
  • Flakey sea salt, for garnish

Generously butter six small (3 inch or so) ramekins, and set aside on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter and both chocolates together in a medium bowl set over simmering water, stirring frequently until smooth and completely combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so.

In a large bowl, stir the eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar together with a spatula or wooden spoon. Don't use an electric mixer or beat very hard by hand. Once the chocolate mixture is no longer hot, stir it into the egg mixture and then allow the whole thing to cool to room temperature.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a smaller bowl, then stir gently into the batter. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins.

Using the end of a chopstick or a small knife, poke a hole in the center of each brownie.   If you have a squeeze bottle, fantastic!  Transfer the caramel sauce to the squeeze bottle, then gently fill up the hole and an area on top of the hole about the size of a quarter.  If you don't have a squeeze bottle, just drizzle away.  It will still taste incredible.  Sprinkle a few flakes of the sea salt over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are puffed and the brownies no longer jiggle when the baking sheet moves. Don't over bake!

Salted Caramel Brownies | Cheesy Pennies

Serve warm with a scoop of caramel ice cream on top.

Potted Salted Caramel Brownies | Cheesy Pennies

To make salted caramel ice cream, follow the recipe for the World's Best Vanilla Ice Cream, but reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup from 2/3 c.  Once custard has finished the final time on the stove, stir in 1/3 c. of salted caramel sauce:  homemade or store bought.  Freeze as usual.  You can also skip this whole thing and just pick up some Talenti Salted Caramel gelato, if you are lucky enough to live by a store that carries it.  All of their ice creams are marvelous!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream | Cheesy Pennies

* BTW, I totally don't rotate my crops.  I just have one tomato jungle and it's awesome again this year.

Heirloom tomato salad | Cheesy Pennies

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